Monday, 2 November 2009

Strange story of national media

News values of national newspapers and broadcasters still manage to bemuse. Even after 40 years in the business, I get taken by surprise at their fixations with each other.
Around a month ago I sent a piece about Lake District's own Taffy Thomas accepting the post as Britain's first Story-Teller Laureate.
As a national first, I naiively expected the national media to have some interest. Alas, neither a line nor a sound-bite appeared.
Locally there was some coverage. The Westmorland Gazette was naturally interested in Grasmere resident done good. Radio Cumbria followed up by interviewing Taffy on its prime drive-time slot.
But despite every news desk in the national media being given a prompt, reaction was there none.
Then I happened to mention this lack of response to the news editor of The Independent on Sunday, while discussing other matters.
He asked to look at the story and said he thought it was really interesting. It duly appeared pominently, as a page 7 lead, in Sunday's edition. As the Independent on Sunday has such a restricted circulation, you can view the article at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/laureate-to-help-storytelling-live-happily-ever-after-1812920.html
It even carried a photograph of Taffy, which was taken by Eileen Wise and not the writer of the article as mistakenly indicated.
Which is all fine and good, but it is what happened next which shows how the national media feed off each other.
On Monday morning, Radio 4's Today programme suddenly became interested, even though they had ignored their own BBC cousins at Cumbria, and there was the full glory of a James McNaughtie interview, during which Taffy told a tremendous tale, The Clever Wish.
Cut and paste this youtube link to re-listen to Taffy's national recognition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSE5uu3bvUE
Stranger still the Telegraph suddenly woke up to a story they had nearly a month before and ignored, this time deciding to put it on its web-site, giving credit to The Independent web version! See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6478957/Britains-first-storytelling-laureate-named-as-Cumbrian-Taffy-Thomas.html
How about that, indeed. You couldn't make it up, Taffy.

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